A West Baltimore man who police say shot and wounded a police officer Tuesday night remained on the run as the injured officer left the hospital and the police commissioner asked for the public’s help catching an “armed and dangerous” suspect.
Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison identified the suspect as Antonio Oliver Janifer, 28, during a Wednesday press conference.
“We are currently seeking to safely apprehend Mr. Janifer and are asking if anyone knows his whereabouts, to call the Baltimore police department or Metro Crimestoppers right away,” Harrison said.
Harrison said Janifer is considered “armed and dangerous,” and has a history of violence.
The wounded officer, Joshua Jackson, was released Wednesday morning from the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in “good condition,” Harrison said.
Harrison said he has not been able to meet with Jackson since the shooting because of COVID-19 precautions at Shock Trauma, but called him “a great asset to this police department, a great asset to the city of Baltimore.”
Officers from the warrant apprehension task force searched Wednesday for Janifer, Harrison said, with assistance from local, regional, state and federal partners. Officers have executed search warrants at multiple locations, including a recent home address for Janifer.
All morning and into the afternoon Wednesday, police cars and officers could be seen outside an apartment complex in the 3400 block of W. North Ave, which court records list as Janifer’s address.
Harrison said the department was able to identify Janifer as the suspect due to “very good policing and detective work," but did not provide any specifics about how he became the focus of their manhunt.
Police said the incident began around 9:25 p.m. Tuesday after Jackson saw a car driving erratically on Light Street, near Lombard Street.
Believing the driver might have been intoxicated, Jackson turned on his lights and siren and attempted to pull over the vehicle. But Harrison said the driver continued on. Jackson followed the vehicle for several blocks before it crashed into a parked car and the driver fled on foot.
As Jackson followed, Harrison said, the driver turned and fired at the officer, striking Jackson, who was wearing protective vest.
Harrison said Jackson did not fire his weapon at the suspect and police do not have any information about whether the officer had a physical struggle with the driver. The department has not yet reviewed body-worn camera footage of the incident.
Harrison said the shooter then carjacked a blue Toyota Camry and fled the scene. Police believe he later carjacked a second vehicle.
Shortly after the shooting, officers swarmed to the south Baltimore neighborhood between Light Street and along Fort Avenue, near Fort McHenry. A police helicopter scanned from above but did not locate the suspect.
Harrison said Wednesday that the department processed “physical evidence from the scene and used investigative techniques” to identify Janifer as a suspect.
When asked at the news conference whether the department’s helicopter was able to provide any footage of the incident, Harrison said investigators are still collecting evidence. The department’s controversial surveillance plane, which was launched in recent weeks to collect evidence in violent crimes, despite criticism from the ACLU of Maryland and others, does not operate at night when the shooting occurred.
According to Maryland court records, Janifer was charged with attempted first-degree murder in Prince George’s County, and was eventually convicted in that case of first-degree assault and use of a handgun in connection with a crime of violence in 2012.
Harrison said Janifer "is a repeat violent offender who should have never been out on the streets of Baltimore. This highlights the need to recognize the many catalysts that fuel this culture of violence, meaning we need to work better and more cohesively with our criminal justice partners by focusing on the swiftness and certainty of consequences for those carrying illegal firearms who wish to do harm to our residents.”
Janifer was charged in Baltimore County with traffic-related offenses in February, including driving with a suspended license.
The manhunt for Janifer came even as the officer he allegedly shot headed home after avoiding severe injury.
Jackson, an Anne Arundel County native, started with the Baltimore police department in 2017.
He said in an interview last year that he has been rapping since he was a freshman at Glen Burnie High School and hoped his music would bring a positive message to the department and the community.
He said he hoped to show through his music that officers are “human beings," and to help further an understanding of the job.
“There’s always people who won’t agree with what I have going on,” Jackson said in the interview. “I don’t respond to anything negative. But if someone wants to rap it out, we can rap it out.”
Despite the challenges of policing in Baltimore, Jackson said he was proud of his work.
“I actually enjoy being a cop here,” he said. “I see a lot of officers working a lot of hours. It can be discouraging at times. But I wanted to make [the video] so they can hear the song and feel proud.”